I just read another article describing the selfie photo as a psychological disorder running rampant in our society. While the phenomenon is definitely reaching new heights I don’t believe it is a product of psychological issues as much as an innovation of technology. I think those who are predisposed to selfies now in no way outnumber those who had the same propensities for generations, but unlike before, now there is the medium and method in existence to cater to such desires.
When I was in high school girls loved being photographed as much as they do today, but photographs had to be taken. Girls would dress up, go to the mall and enter photo booths, or get cheap portraits taken of themselves or with friends, later to be distributed among said friends. But the actual selfie was ineffectual. Film was expensive. Then there were development fees for photographs, and the actual waiting period associated with taking your film to Thrifty’s (now Rite Aid), or to whatever local camera shop was available. From start to finish a roll of film could cost up to $30 at a time where minimum wage was $4.5o. And cameras did not offer editing. There was no knowing what pictures you took until well after the fact, and with each click you were spending several dollars while potentially capturing nothing more than the wall behind you. In was not an economical or viable means of self exposure.
Then the digital camera came along that made the process much easier, but carrying a camera along, digital or not, was cumbersome, and few did it. Not to mention you would upload the pictures onto your computer only to print them out later because social networks didn’t yet exist. Facebook was not a thing, and the closest thing to online distribution was to upload a photo to a friend via ICQ while your internet connection squawked at you.
When Facebook started it was only open to college students whose accounts would be authenticated by institutions. At the time I knew only two other people with an account, and we would in fact post pictures. Of each other. To each other. The idea that you could use FB to associate with people you haven’t seen in more than ten hours hadn’t yet sunk in. The first time I “reconnected” with someone I hadn’t spoken to in a long time, despite that we were FB friends, I still felt like I was stalking them. So why in God’s name would I randomly post pictures of myself? Fast forward 10 years and my little FB account is alive and thriving and there are hundreds of pictures of me floating around the Internets. And yes, there are at least 2 dozen selfies of me somewhere (probably in the profile section of whatever account).
My point is that if the technology and means of distribution existed, my high school self and my friends would have been just as much into self exposure via selfies as others are today, and it would by no means have stopped at commencement. It has less to do with age as it does with ingrained behavior. Since I did not grow up with the equipment necessary for selfies, I am not used to taking them, and constantly fumble (and while I know some people are faster learners than others, as far as technology is concerned, if you make it, I can probably break it). Every once in a while I will take a good one, and immediately get excited like a three year old because “look! I did it!” Nevermind that my phone has a reversible camera.
Phones now have better and easier to use cameras than actual cameras used to have. Which is another reason selfies are everywhere – they are not a psychological disorder, but a product of convenience. Selfies cost nothing and can be immediately disseminated to hundreds, if not thousands of people. If you think your new top or make-up looks particularly cute one day, well… take a picture. Or, in my case, try to actually aim at yourself. And, if you are like me, you hoard your selfies as if they were some sort of precious commodity because you may not get another good one for a long time.
Speaking of which, since I don’t actually have anything worth posting, here is an adorable picture of Bix after I gave him a bath the other night.
I am currently waiting on psychologists to claim taking pictures of cute cats is also a psychological disorder and I will follow that up with a post on ancient renderings in tombs and pyramids since people have obviously been suffering of this for a long time.